Most of the heat and the controversies involving the Baltimore Ravens backfield this offseason had to do with J.K. Dobbins hold-in through the greater part of the summer. Now, another drama could be brewing just a few days from the final roster cuts.
According to columnist Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun, the Ravens "shouldn’t allow rookie running back Keaton Mitchell to play in Saturday’s preseason finale."
Preston's comments come out of fear, mind you, as he reasons that showcasing the rookie rusher to other teams would increase the chances of other franchises claiming him off waivers if the Ravens don't include the UDFA in their final 53-man roster.
"The more other teams see him, the better the chance he winds up somewhere else," Preston wrote.
Truth be told, Keaton Mitchell is far from a lock to make it all the way to the regular season as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, whether that's on the final roster or as a member of the organization.
If Baltimore decides to carry four rushers into the regular season, Mitchell will need to beat veteran Melvin Gordon III to the final roster spot at the position. If the Ravens opt for naming only three running backs, the trio will include J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill while Mitchell and Gordon would be cut.
That final point comes with the caveat that Baltimore would try to wave, then re-sign the players that miss on the final roster but still are of interest to the organization. The problem, of course, is that those players would need to clear waivers and not get claimed by other franchises if Baltimore wants to have them back in their practice squad.
Through the first two preseason games, it looks like Mitchell is leading the race for the RB4 spot over Gordon, although it's not quite clear if the Ravens would add him to their final squad considering the needs at other positions such as cornerback and outside linebacker.
Whether Baltimore ends up naming Mitchell to their final roster or cutting him, it's fair to assume that some team will end up claiming him and giving him a chance to prove his talents across the NFL landscape considering how good he's looked in training camp, and two preseason contests to date.
Kudos to Preston for his take. The Ravens should have seen enough of the rookie on actual in-game action already while the franchise also has the inside knowledge of having him around in practices, so it'd be good for them to hide their young stud from outside-looking eyes wanting to snatch him.